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Volvo sets up energy division to explore V2G
- November 13, 2023
- Steve Rogerson
Swedish car maker Volvo has set up an energy division to offer energy storage and charging technologies that will help utilities balance the grid during peak hours.
The business unit will offer energy storage and charging related technologies and services that form the connective tissue between its cars, customers, efficient energy use and society at large.
Bidirectional charging, for example, is a technology that allows an electric car to feed extra battery power back into a compatible grid, helping balance the grid during peak hours and reducing the need for fossil-generated electricity.
The all-electric EX90 will be the first Volvo car equipped with the necessary hardware and, over time, software to enable bidirectional charging and direct energy storage from solar energy.
Working with Göteborg Energi Nät, the local power grid company in Volvo’s Swedish hometown of Gothenburg, it is launching a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot that aims to test V2G technology on the local power grid and in homes with real customers. The pilot deliberately uses a cheap AC charging box, as it will help speed up widespread use of the technology.
The pilot aims to gain acceptance from one network company and demonstrate to other network companies that V2G programmes can provide tangible benefits. It also hopes to create a test arena for technologies that are central to Volvo Cars’ future outside its laboratories.
“With bidirectional charging, you can use your car battery as an additional energy source, for example to provide power to your home, other electrical devices or another electric Volvo car,” said Alexander Petrofski, head of Volvo Cars Energy. “The next step will be to enable this feature across Sweden, and hopefully it will pave the way for an even wider acceptance of similar charging and energy storage services across Europe.”
Volvo aims to be an all-electric car company by 2030, with the planned launch of millions of electric cars on the road in the coming years. Its engineers have calculated that the total battery capacity of that fleet will reach around 50GWh by the middle of the decade. Although these cars will consume several TWh of electricity each year, this energy consumption is flexible and can be shifted in time via smart charging.
Meanwhile, data from Volvo’s vehicle fleet show the average daily drive in Europe consumes less than 10kWh, while 90 per cent of all daily drives consume less than 20kWh. This means there is plenty of spare battery capacity left that can be used for other purposes, with the possibility of both financial benefits for users and the climate.
This is where bidirectional charging comes into play. The technology lets users reuse energy stored in the battery of their electric car at a later stage. V2G makes it possible to supply energy back to the grid from the battery of an electric car when demand for electricity is higher, for a fee.
“With the help of smart charging, you can charge your electric Volvo in the best possible time from a sustainability and economic perspective,” said Petrofski. “Now imagine being able to use that energy later, perhaps during the times when prices are higher and the energy mix less sustainable. The idea of building an energy ecosystem around your car and the batteries is that it allows you to save money and reduce your CO2 emissions, while energy companies benefit from reduced network investments and a lower overall impact on the environment.”
Volvo (www.volvocars.com) is also looking at vehicle-to-home (V2H) products that let users send energy back to their houses and lower energy bills, as well as vehicle-to-load (V2L) services where the electric car battery powers camping equipment or charges electric bikes.